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Black Caps dominate first two sessions
Alastair Cook's decision to bowl first backfired in the first two sessions at Eden Park as Peter Fulton closed on a maiden Test century in New Zealand's teatime total of 173 for one.
England had only Steven Finn's breakthrough just before lunch, with the wicket of Hamish Rutherford, to show for their endeavours as their hosts set sights on dominant total in this final Test.
A potential decider, it was hard already to see how England might fight back to break the 0-0 deadlock after rain-affected draws in Dunedin and Wellington.
Fulton (95 not out) raced past his previous-best 75 as he and Kane Williamson shared an unbroken stand of 94. By tea, the tall opener had hit 13 fours and three sixes from 185 balls.
Cook's gamble that this drop-in pitch might be at its most fruitful for his bowlers in the morning did not pay off. There was precious little encouragement from the outset for England's front-line seam attack, including first-change Finn at the same venue where he gave Rutherford a torrid time in the tourists' one-day international victory last month.
James Anderson twice beat Rutherford on the back foot, and then had Fulton edging high and just past third slip to go from 12 to 16. But there were no clear-cut chances as the pace remained steadfastly easy and the bounce true, until Finn had Rutherford edging to Cook at slip on the back foot to end an opening partnership of 79.
Cook turned to Monty Panesar half an hour before lunch, only to see Rutherford hit the slow left-armer twice for six either side of the short straight boundary in his second over.
Fulton had already mis-hooked Stuart Broad for a steepling six almost straight over the wicketkeeper's head.
Nothing went England's way, before and after Rutherford's departure, and Williamson was especially convincing. Fulton passed his second fifty of the series with an on-driven four off Finn, and then accelerated towards three-figures with a leg-side sequence of 4-4-6 in one Panesar over.
England were not bowling especially badly but were highly vulnerable in conditions which quickly limited their ambition.